Judith Enck, the former Spitzer administration environmental aide now a regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, told Capitol Pressroom host Susan Arbetter earlier this morning that Gov. Andrew Cuomo was donig the “smart thing” when it comes to seek a new health-impact study on high-volume hydrofracking.

Enck noted that her boss isn’t someone who opposes the controversial natural-gas extraction process.

“It’s very interesting. President Obama believes that natural gas plays a key role in our nations energy future, but he wants to make sure that when hydrofracking takes place it’s done safely. And certainly the safety includes health impacts. So I think the governor is doing a smart thing. He’s erring on the side of public health.”

The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health announced a joint effort to study the health effects of fracking, which uses a mixture of sand, chemicals and water to extract natural gas from below ground.

But the announcement was paired with a decision to deny environmental groups an “independent” or outside health study.

Cuomo has said the government should be the independent entity that studies the health effects and thorough study could be used in court should environmentalists sue over allowing hydrofracking if the process is gien the green light (indeed, it seems unlikely that businesses and energy companies would sue to overturn a state decision to not allow hydrofracking in parts of upstate).

“It’s hard to make the case that the health issues don’t deserve the proper attention,” Enck said.

But the health impact study is being seen by some in both the environmental and energy communities as a delay tactic. The DEC announced last week he would not make the November deadline to complete its report on fracking and could restart the whole rule-making process again.

The governor in Syracuse on Tuesday told reporters there was “no step back” on the regulatory process.

Meanwhile, the EPA is putting together its on report on the health effects of fracking in drinking water. Enck said in the interview that a progress report on the study is due out in December, with it being finalized in the next two years.

Enck was perhaps best known to upstate New Yorkers in the environmental circles as the main proponent of dredging PCB-laden muck from the Hudson River north of Albany.